SYRACUSE – A plethora of reasons to anticipate Thursday’s Northern Lakes Conference met the Warsaw boys track team, and the Tigers made the most of the chance to perform.
Warsaw smoked both Northridge, 93-39, and Wawasee, 103-29, while the Raiders clipped the Warriors, 71.33-60.66 in the conference trio at Wawasee.
After finding the sledding tough against Elkhart Memorial a week ago, winning by just five points with its 60 conference dual win streak on the line, the Tigers responded in fine fashion.
Alijah Wade took both sprints, grabbing the 100 at 10.93 and bursting from the final corner of the 200 to claim a 22.97 victory. The Tigers made a sweep of the dashes, with Nolan Groninger and Connor Lennox tying in the 400 at 55.60 and the 4×100 relay team posting a 45.70.
Warsaw distance also picked up two wins, the 4×800 opening the meet with an 8:27.98 and Lucas Howett and Taylor Mills going one-two in the two-mile, Howett pulling away from Mills in the final two laps to win at 10:13.38.
Eli Owen won the 300 hurdles at 43.94, Lennox was the top high jumper at 6-0, John Svinarich outmuscled the field in the shot put at 50-00.5, and Hunter Metzger bested teammate Nick Bazzoni in jumps at 11-6 in pole vault.
“It really has been frustrating for the guys, they just want to get out and compete, get out of the gym and terrible weather,” said Warsaw head coach Matt Thacker. “With a lot of young kids, they are getting better. We just need to get more experience in meets.
“After last week’s meet (against Memorial), motivation was a lot easier for them to come into today and work hard,” continued Thacker. “To be able to get out of last week with a win, as sloppy as it was, but then to come into today and have the meet we had, that’s encouraging for all of us. The weather, it is what it is, we all are dealing with it the best we can. So is Wawasee, so is Northridge.”
Wawasee saw its shining star, Luke Griner, continue to light the way. The senior middle distance stud showed fine form in the 800 – his signature – with a 2:00.91 that had him get a big challenge from Northridge’s Tanner Sallee throughout. As Griner hit the final 200 meters, he kicked in and put a couple extra steps between himself and Sallee, maintaining that advantage to the finish. Griner’s speed in the final 400 meters of the 4×400 relay helped Wawasee to a win at 3:40.03.
“What can you say about Luke right now?” said Wawasee head coach Doug Slabaugh. “Luke reminds me a little bit of Eric Brown on the track. It’s nice to see Luke get the baton and not have to chase people down. He got the baton with a little bit of a lead or almost even and made it work. Eric Yankosky also had a huge leg of that relay.”
Elisha Tipping added another win for the Warriors in discus at 151-06, beating Svinarich by 11 feet while the younger Tipping, Isaiah, threw a personal-best 45-09 for the runner-up spot in shot put.
“Guys are just improving, and that’s all we can ask, really,” Slabaugh said. “Jumps were really good. Elisha threw a PR in discus, and his brother blows away his best in shot. Those are things we look at as huge positives.”
Warsaw will prepare for a visit to the Southport Relays this Saturday while Wawasee will test its mettle at Saturday’s Goshen Relays.